2016 campaign checklist: Rubio

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Associated Press

Posted on May 2, 2014 at 4:06 PM

Updated Friday, May 2 at 4:06 PM

A look at preparations by U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., for a potential 2016 presidential campaign:

Nondenial denial: "Eventually I'll have to make a decision one way or another because my Senate term will expire in 2016. But it won't be today." — April, after foreign policy speech at University of Texas.

Book: Yes, now has a new book tentatively scheduled for release in late 2014, from same publisher of his 2012 memoir "An American Son."

Iowa visits: Yes, just days after 2012 election, but largely holding off on a new wave of trips to early voting states until later this year.

New Hampshire: Making his first appearance of the 2016 season, in May, at county Republican dinner. Multiple appearances before 2012 election. In May 2013, his Reclaim America PAC put up ads to defend GOP Sen. Kelly Ayotte against attack ads from group financed by then-New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

South Carolina: Yes. In ahead of the 2016 pack, headlining state's Silver Elephant dinner in 2012. Stay tuned for more.

Foreign travel: Yes. Delivered foreign policy speech in London in early December, visited the Philippines, Japan and South Korea in January; Israel, Jordan, Palestinian Authority in February 2013. Also went to Israel after 2010 election to Senate, Afghanistan and Pakistan in 2011, Spain, Germany, Haiti and Colombia in 2012. Member of the Senate Intelligence Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Meet the money: Yes, aggressive national fundraising outreach, including trips to New York and California to meet potential donors. Among a handful of possible candidates to attend September 2013 event at home of Woody Johnson, New York Jets' owner and Mitt Romney's national finance chairman. Also attended a fundraising strategy meeting at the National Republican Senatorial Committee headquarters in Washington with well-connected lobbyists and Mitt Romney bundlers from 2012 election. Among top fundraisers in early 2016 field in campaign and leadership political action committees.

Networking: Yes, conservative and party activists, focused in part on repairing tea party relationships strained over immigration. Speech to National Rifle Association in April; also foreign policy speech at University of Texas. Well-received speech to Conservative Political Action Conference in March, though he lagged in the symbolic straw poll. Campaigned for Republican in Virginia governor's race last fall. Spent more than $200,000 in early December 2013 from PAC to help U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton, who's running for the U.S Senate in Arkansas. In October won standing ovations at Values Voter conference when affirming his Christian faith and denouncing "rising tide of intolerance" toward social conservatives. Delivered keynote address at fundraiser for the Florida Family Policy Council, an evangelical group that led the successful 2008 effort to ban gay marriage in the state.

Hog the TV: Staying on par with most rivals in Sunday news show appearances. Blanketed all five Sunday shows one day in April 2013, before he dropped the subject of immigration; made several other appearances since. Frequent guest on news networks. Was granted coveted chance to present televised Republican response to Obama's State of the Union speech in 2013, which he did in two languages and with jarring reach for drink of water.

Do something: Broker of Senate immigration overhaul, though he's gone quiet on the issue. Worked with anti-abortion groups on Senate version of bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks. Early leader in so-far futile effort to starve federal health care law of money.

Take a stand: A 2014 initiative on poverty that calls for replacing the earned income tax credit with a federal wage supplement for workers in certain low-paying jobs. Also, consolidate anti-poverty federal money into a single agency that would transfer the money to states. Advocate tea party fiscal conservatism and repeal of the health care law. Recent focus on foreign policy and education, too.

Baggage: A rift with his tea party constituency on immigration, "a real trial for me." Deflection: Go aggressive on a matter of common ground, which he did in pledging to take apart Obama's health law. Dry-mouthed Rubio suffered embarrassing moment when he clumsily reached for water while delivering GOP response to Obama's State of the Union address. Deflection: Self-deprecating jokes about it. Thin resume for presidency, but others — Obama included — have powered through that problem. Bush shadow: unclear if he would run should his mentor, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, get in the race.

Shadow campaign: Reclaim America PAC led by former deputy chief of staff, Terry Sullivan, veteran of South Carolina politics. The PAC has already spent six figures to defend Ayotte on gun control and expects to be active behind GOP candidates across country in 2014 election. Will begin more aggressive travel to early voting states starting in May.

Social media: Aggressive, with large followings, appears to make personal use of Twitter more than staff-generated Facebook. Takes lots of shots at the health law. On Facebook, lists "Pulp Fiction" movie and "The Tudors" historical fiction TV series among favorites.

EDITOR'S NOTE _ 2014 is a year of auditioning, positioning, networking and just plain hard work for people who might run for president in 2016. There's plenty to do, and the pace has quickened since The Associated Press last took a broad look at preparations for a potential campaign. Here's a look at one prospective candidate.

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